>Haven't we always been obligated to follow all of the rules?... How are the
> "standard pronunciations . . . from a generation ago" different?
I must clarify my very general inquiry. Actually I was refering to the
"third" rule of the shva na which is when a shva follows a tenuah gedolah
("large" or hard vowel). If we are to follow the rule then the word Astah
(ayin, sin, tav, heh) would be pronounced 'asetah' the word Holchim would
be 'holechim' and the parsha would be Toledot not Toldot.
This rule seems to not be followed by baale kriah that I am familiar with.
Additionally the word "mimeged" found in parshat Vezot Habracha would be
pronounced as 'Mim-meged' since the second mem has a dagesh chazak in it.
Should we take the pains to pronounce these or are these an extension of
the concept of kri Uketiv, (written but not read) and actually were never
pronounced just understood.
In speaking to a number of Ivrit teachers who are masters of
dikduk(grammar) the rules are followed in writing but not in speech since
the goal is Ivrit Retzufah (a flowing languange).